101 Inspirational Street Photography Quotes

(Above Image Copyrighted By Steve McCurry / Magnum Photos)

Charlie Atkinson: So for this weeks post I thought I would share my favorite quotes from some of my favorite photographers as well as a few others that can be applied to photography as well! They are also not in any particular order, this post is by me as well (not Eric!) as I think there was some confusion on the last gear post I did :). Enjoy!

101 Inspirational/Street/Photography Quotes:

1.”Q: Do you really distance yourself from your subject? I mean, what would you do if you were presented with a young girl burning to death? A: About 1/60 at f5.6.” – Robert Capa
2. “For a war correspondent to miss an invasion is like refusing a date with Lana Turner.” – Robert Capa
3. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough” – Robert Capa
4. “The Pictures are there, and you just take them” – Robert Capa
5. “This war is like an actress who is getting old. It is less and less photogenic and more and more dangerous.” – Robert Capa
6. “The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible” – Oscar Wilde
7. “My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder.” – Abbas
8. “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that is is just a trick.” – Christopher Anderson
9. “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold
10. “Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.” – Bruno Barbey
11. “I never thought I would become a photographer.” – Rene Burri
12. “Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscapes” Chien-Chi Chang
13. “It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It;s their intimate relationship with it.” – Antoine D’Agata
14. “The photographer is filled with doubt. Nothing will soothe him.” – Raymond Depardon
15. “All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.” – Elliott Erwitt
16. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things in words.” – Elliott Erwitt
17. “I love photographing. It’s that simple.” – Stuart Franklin
18. “Ultimately photography is about who you are. It’s the truth in relation to yourself. And seeking truth becomes a habit.” – Leonard Freed
19. “I want the viewers to be moved into the lives of the people that they are looking at, the visual experience is incredibly emotional.” Paul Fusco
20. “Taking pictures is like fishing or writing. It’s getting out of the unknown that which resists and refuses to come to light” – Jean Gaumy
21. “I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. Ive never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.” – Bruce Gilden
22. “I have the great privilege of being both witness and storyteller. Intimacy, trust and intuition guide my work.” – Jim Goldberg
23. “I’m very open to any visual conceits and any possibilities at my disposal to be better explain to people the ideas I’m exploring.” – Tim Hetherington
24. “I am not an artist. I am an image maker.” – Thomas Hoepker
25. “The photograph is completely abstracted from life, yet it looks like life. That is what has always excited me about photography.” – Richard Kalvar

(Copyright: Peter Barker-Morgan)

26. “A photographer is an acrobat treading the high wire of chance, trying to capture shooting stars.” – Guy Le Querrec
27. “I really don’t have any idea about photography, but I take pictures.” – Alex Majoli
28. “Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a persons face.” Steve McCurry
29. “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” – Steve McCurry
30. “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.” Susan Meiselas
31. “I think good dreaming is what leads to good photographs.” – Wayne Miller
32. “To take pictures had become a necessity and I did not want to forgo it for anything.” – Inge Morath
33. “I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.” – Trent Parke
34. “I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography’; I am gathering evidence for history.” – Gilles Peress
35. “A photograph has picked up a fact of life, and that fact will live forever.” Raghu Rai
36. “A photograph is not created by a photographer. What they do is just open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world.” – Ferdinando Scianna
37. “A photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes – just sometimes – one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought.” – W. Eugene Smith
38. “I fell in love with taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.” Alec Soth
39. “When I photograph, I try to use my instincts as much as possible. It is when pictures are unconsidered and irrational that they come to life; that they evolve from showing to being.”
40. “Everything shifts as you move, and different things come into focus at different points of your life, and you try to articulate that.” Chris Steele – Perkins
41. “For me, photography has become a way of attempting to make sense of the strange world that I see around me. I don’t ever expect to achieve that understanding, but the fact that I am trying comforts me.” – Mikhael Subotzky
42. “Photography cannot do much. It provides some level of information, yet it has no pretensions about changing the world.” John Vink
43. “I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heat of the known awaits just around the corner.” – Alex Webb
44. “The idea of a photography seemed to come together with the idea that this is how I could be – someone who could have one step in the world while at the same time being one step removed from it.” – Donovan Wylie
45. “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” – Anonymous
46. “When I use the camera, I often feel likeI know part of the people or places I come in contact with.” – Christophe Agou
47. “Looking and seeing are two different things. What matters is the relationship with the subject.” – Christophe Agou
48.”Buy a good pair of comfortable shoes, have a camera around your neck at all times, keep your elbows in, be patient, optimistic and don’t forget to smile.” – Matt Stuart
49.”I’m left handed, have a double jointed finger, and almost lost my thumb when I was younger. I resent the fact that cameras are not made for lefties.” – Matt Stuart
50.”When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.” – Anonymous

(Copyright: Charlie Atkinson)

51. “Success is what happens when 10,000 hours of preparation meet with one moment of opportunity.” – Anonymous
52. ”It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary.” – David Bailey
53. ”During the work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
54. ”Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
55. ”If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.” – Garry Winogrand
56. ”I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.” – Garry Winogrand
57. ”Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts.” – Garry Winogrand
58. ”There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described. I photograph to see what something will look like photographed.” – Garry Winogrand
59. ”Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams
60. ”When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!” – Ted Grant
61. ”The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.” – Robert Doisneau
62. ”Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham
63. ”I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.” – Alec Soth
64. ”Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the ‘ah-ha’.” – Ernst Haas
65. “Don’t check.” – Lord Ripon
66. ”That right moment.” – Gary Stochl
67. ”With photography, I like to create fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.” – Martin Parr
68. ”You can’t learn passion, either you’ve got it or you haven’t.” – Martin Parr
69. ”All photography is propaganda.” – Martin Parr
70. ”What I did, anybody can do.” – Weegee
71. ”News photography teaches you to think fast.” – Weegee
72. ”A photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see.” – Roland Barthes
73. ”What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.” – Rola
74. ”I only use a camera like I use a toothbrush. It does the job.” – Don McCullin
75. ”Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin

(Copyright: Charlie Atkinson)

76. ”I have to shoot three cassettes of film a day, even when not ‘photographing’, in order to keep the eye in practice.” – Josef Koudelka,
77. ”I find it particularly exciting when a picture evokes anything near that word, ‘mystery’.” – Jeff Mermelstein
78. ”Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus
79. ”I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” – Diane Arbus
80. ”Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.” – Ansel Adams
81. ”You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams
82. ”A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” – Ansel Adams
83. ”The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value.” – Ansel Adams
84. ”Anyone can shoot chaos. But the most perceptive photographers can make compelling pictures out of uninteresting moments.” – Alex Tehrani
85. ”I guess I’ve shot about 40,000 negatives and of these I have about 800 pictures I like.” – Harry Callahan
86. ”Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
87. ”I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money.” – Philippe Halsman
88. ”I don’t want anyone to appreciate the light or the palette of tones. I want my pictures to inform, to provoke discussion – and to raise money.” – Sebastiao Salgado
89. ”I don’t believe a person has a style. What people have is a way of photographing what is inside them. What is there comes out.” – Sebastiao Salgado
90. ”It’s not the photographer that makes the picture, but the person being photographed.” – Sebastiao Salgado
91. “A tear contains an ocean. A photographer is aware of the tiny moments in a persons life that reveal greater truths.” – Anonymous
92. “A photographer strives to be fully aware of every moment, and to be one with all others every moment.” – Anonymous
93. “Once you learn to care, you can record images with your mind or on film. There is no difference between the two.” – Anonymous
94.”The only ‘bad light’ is the absence of light altogether.” – Anonymous
95. “Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary objects so you can transform it by photographing it.” – Morley Baer
96. “I didn’t choose photography. Photography chose me.” Gerardo Suter
97. “Photography is the beauty of life, captured.” – Tara Chisholm
98. “Photography, like alcohol, should only be allowed to those who can do without it.” – Walter Sickert
99. “A photograph is the pause button on life.” – Ty Holland
100. “You can give everything to photography but photography will give you only 1 thing – happiness.” – Anonymous
101.  “A roll of film costs $6.00 – a roll of history is priceless.” – Anonymous

Images:   Steve McCurry
                Charlie Atkinson
                Peter Barker-Morgan


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  • Anon

    Who cares for 101 quotes??? How about 1000 photo tips…

    Just take photos fro crying out loud…

    • Paul

      Ironic, as I think there are a couple of quotes directly relevant to your comments…

      >>> How about 1000 photo tips??As Elliot Erwitt said.. “All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.”
      >>> Just take photos for crying out loud?Well, as Henri Cartier-Bresson observed ”Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

      There is more to photography than simply getting out there and rattling of frames. Learn from taking pictures, learn from looking at pictures, and certainly learn from others.
      There are a lot of gems in the list that will make me think twice the next time I go out with my camera. I found it extremely useful.

      Thank you for posting, Eric.

      • http://www.charlieatkinson.blog.com/ Charlie Atkinson

        Hey Paul, I’m glad you liked the post! I definitely agree. There is much more to a photographer then just his pictures.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Of course taking photos is the most important thing – but hopefully this list can be used as a source of inspiration!

  • http://twitter.com/TheHigham Brett Higham

    Great post. Quotes are always appreciated… I also enjoyed your gear post. And do people on here actually read the post or just drop down and comment… Because everyone credits all the articles to Eric….

    Thanks, Charlie…

    As for the haters… Why aren’t YOU out shooting rather than trolling posts anonymously?

    • http://www.charlieatkinson.blog.com/ Charlie Atkinson

      Hey Brett! Thanks man, always nice to get some love haha! http://500px.com/photo/5843836 love this shot of yours by the way

  • Cliff

    >> 60. ”When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes.
    But when you
    >>photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!” –
    Ted Grant
    I believe both media are equally valid. I once asked Joel Meyerowitz what he thought of B&W. He replied something along the lines of “why discard information?”. This resonated with me. I think we each have to discover what speaks to us. Color speaks to me.

    • http://www.charlieatkinson.blog.com/ Charlie Atkinson

      Hi Cliff, I think the reply from Meyerowitz is a great quote in itself!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NLAYJQUVEYEQQQLNEC66O66OH4 Dustin

    Enjoyable quotes of a photography’s are.
    90. ”It’s not the photographer that makes the picture, but the person being photographed.”

    For me, both of them is a part of picture, someone else agree?

    A webmaster of photobook

  • Kaushal Parikh

    Don’t shoot what you see, shoot what you feel (or something to that effect) – David Alan Harvey

  • retro123

    Why is every second post beginning with a number – 101 quotes – 99 tips – 10 best cameras – 35 magnum – 10 famous – and so on…? Doesn’t look serious too me but more a way to sell things and get clicks.

    • Anon


    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1065311958 April Paddock

      retro123, seems to be working, eh? ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaronjsmith Aaron Smith

    Gary Winogrand had another quote that I like but I can’t remember it exactly… something like “Photography is just light on surface.”

  • John Ellis

    I like; “Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you’ll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light’s magic colors and your images will stir the soul.” Jack Dykinga

  • Rdd

    Bruce Gilden is talking crap here

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.ellis.9237 John Ellis

    I had to add one more that I think is particularly valuable for street photography but hard to do; Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Sean Bagshaw quoted this Zen saying during a podcast.

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  • Sarah

    ”Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus

    LOL! That’s so true!!!

    We too have a directory of famous quotes by famous people. Do check them out!

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  • http://twitter.com/MoudiPhotograph Moudi Photography

    What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.

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    This was helpful for me and it really gave me allot to think about. Thanks for this!

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  • jeff moore

    Photography is the name of my relationship with Camera and Photos are my childrens ,I love them most.They can be good or bad in nature.

  • http://eeskaatt.tumblr.com eeskaatt

    A good photograph can show you the facts of what’s going on, but the greatest photograph can show you the feelings..make you relate to the feelings
    — Bob Gruen

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    Quoted Pictures Comes up with all the best, cute, beautiful and good positive quotes about life that you need to read for daily

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